Creating a Healthy Hotel Workforce

By Lewis Fein CEO, Lewis Fein Communications | August 27, 2017

Of the many challenges hotel executives face, there is another to add to the list: Drug and alcohol abuse within the workplace. The good news is that this is not an insoluble problem. Nor is it one executives can afford to ignore, because a healthy and happy workforce is essential to ensuring a hotel's reputation for excellent service.

The best way to address this subject, then, is by having a treatment center executives can refer employees to visit. That center has the resources and expertise a hotelier needs, so an otherwise exemplary employee does not lose his or her job; so a hotel does not lose an experienced and talented worker.

Access to that center is an extension of the benefits a hotelier should provide, because recreational or habitual use of certain drugs may be a sign – it is a sign – of a more serious set of issues, from difficulties at home to anxieties on the job, from crises of confidence to a lack of self-confidence. It may be easy to terminate that person's employment, but the easiest answer is not always the right answer.

On the contrary, a great employee – even a good employee – represents an investment of time and money: An investment in teaching and training, of formal and informal study, of mentoring and tutoring, of assistance and apprenticeship. That investment is a matter of years, sometimes decades, not weeks or months; it involves a degree of mastery no manual can convey, no seminar can equal, no online course can match, and no book or video can encapsulate; it is confirmation of something more than competency, because it is proof that an employee has both the knowledge and wisdom to do what few can achieve and fewer aspire to accomplish –– to have an intuitive sense of what a guest wants before that person asks for it.

It would be foolish to throw that all away, as it leaves the employee without work, the hotelier without one of his best workers and guests without the best of everything.

Executives first need to invite staff to discuss these issues. At a minimum, there should be a group meeting to clarify that help is available. Make it clear, too, that you have a legal right and a moral duty to safeguard the privacy of your workers.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.